OK so we may be a little bit late to the party with this one but good blog posts take time to write! So, what did we learn from 2014 and what do we think will be the ‘must do’ things in terms of SEO in 2015.
Looking back at SEO in 2014
Another year goes by and a whole raft of changes have come along to keep us all on our toes. We have seen websites who have been badly hit by Penguin and Panda updates and those who have recovered and bounced back even stronger as Google look to clean up the link profiles of sites large and small. We also got a little snippet of information that having a secure website i.e. a https:// domain would help you to get a ranking boost (although the outcomes of doing this are expected to be minimal – but every little helps!).
Finally, and to leave 2014 on a high, we saw the continuing growth of content marketing dominating the SEO sphere and with it comes great news for all users out there – Google is rewarding good content that people want to engage with (fancy that!) and therefore, companies are focusing much harder on providing you with great content and cutting back on the big sales messages – great news for all internet users we think!
Crystal ball time – what will 2015 hold for SEO?
As always with SEO, it’s really tricky to predict exactly what will happen across a whole 12 month period but the bottom line is that the end goal never really changes – Google wants to provide users with the best, most relevant and most trustworthy site at the top of the rankings. How we get there may change slightly but if the end goal is always the same, we should always be looking to provide the best content, which is most relevant and that people can trust – doing it fastest also helps!
Top 5 SEO tips for 2015
- Content marketing – yep, back to this old chestnut again. The fact is that content marketing is here to stay. Seth Godin (best-selling author and marketer) once said that ‘Content marketing is all the marketing that’s left’ and who are we to argue? He went on to say that ‘teaching your customers and giving your customers the resources to believe you is new marketing.’ So, our first tip is to keep up the content marketing work and if you haven’t thought about this yet, it’s time to get your skates on and join the party. Look out for a blog in early January which looks more in depth at content marketing and why it is not just about sticking content out into the wide world and waiting for the magic to happen – it’s about doing your research and finding out what works.
- User Experience – As we ask our users to engage with the content we are providing them, are we doing it in a way that is friendly? Have we considered the devices they are primarily using to access our content? Have we made it easy to find whatever it is they are looking for? If the answer to any of these is no, then you need to start looking at your website user experience now and consider what a first time user would make of your site. Get out there and do some testing then respond accordingly. It’s a competitive world out there and those who provide a poor experience for users are going to get left behind. One thing we can expect to see this year is a shift towards more companies designing specifically for mobile rather than just providing a responsive site design. Why? Just because content is responsive doesn’t mean it’s user friendly on a mobile.
- Keyword research – this is not new for 2015 I hear you say! Ah, but the way you should be doing it has shifted somewhat so we recommend revisiting your keyword research and bringing some new methods to the party (see previous blog on Keyword research is changing – are you?). Keyword research has moved on from the days of firing a few key terms into the Google Keyword Planner and seeing what it spits out. It’s time to find out what is going on in the big wide world and discovering user intent when they type certain keywords. As well as helping you expand your search, it is also a good way to see what type of content is engaging people when they type certain terms.
- Link earning (hat tip to Rand Fishkin for the term) – previously many SEOs have focused on building links back to a client’s site (or their own). This has led to countless backlinks out in the big wide world, some of which Google don’t seem to like any more. Practices of days gone by are now actually harming websites so it’s time to clear up the link profile and start earning those links rather than fishing for them. This is not just a case of asking a few key clients to add a link on their site back to yours. This is about building relationships with key influencers in your field. Maybe comment on a blog post, engage on social media, even chat in person. Conversations can more often than not lead to relationships being formed and links back to your content. Be warned – this is a long term play and will not happen overnight. Treat it like the dating game; you don’t ask someone to marry you on a first date so don’t ask for a link from a complete stranger.
- Natural language search – it was tough to narrow this list down to just 5 top tips but natural language search is the last one on our list (it was a toss-up between this and the Google Knowledge Graph). We know that Google has been placing much more emphasis on natural language search since the introduction of Hummingbird in 2013, paying more attention to each word in a query meaning the whole sentence is taken into account. As we move to a world with more and more wearable technology and the increase in the use of “Ok Google’ for carrying out web searches on desktops, mobiles and tablets, natural language search will become increasingly more important so keep an eye on it in 2015.
For those who know about SEO, you will know that there are no hard and fast rules and everyone out there will have a different take on what is important in 2015. One thing left out here is regular Link Auditing which many others will see as a big thing, but we actually said this in 2013!
All we know here at Digital Hothouse is that these are some big things for us to focus on in 2015 so even if you disagree, or if fancy a chat with us to start building those crucial relationships, drop us a line.
All the best for a successful 2015 everyone!